An automobile is a vehicle used for the transport of people or goods. Most definitions of automobile include four wheels, seating for one to seven people and a motor to make them move. The word comes from the Greek words auto (self) and movis (carrying). Automobiles are a key part of modern life, allowing individuals to travel quickly and easily and providing access to jobs and services. Automobiles can be built in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and are used for many different purposes. The most common type of automobile is the passenger car, which is designed for carrying people. There are also sports cars, trucks and vans, and utility vehicles such as road rollers, fork-lifts, and construction cranes.
The invention of the automobile brought about a number of changes in society and industry, including better roads and the creation of industries to supply automobile parts and fuel. Services like gas stations and convenience stores also sprang up. In the United States, the automobile was a major force for change during the 1920s and became the backbone of a new consumer goods-oriented economy. It ranked first in value of product and provided one out of every six jobs in the country.
Automobiles require a lot of energy to move, and the amount of energy they use depends on their intended purpose. Automobiles that are designed for off-road use must have durable systems and high resistance to overloads and extremes in operating conditions. On the other hand, automobiles that are designed for highway speeds must have high engine performance and optimized high-speed handling and stability.
During the late nineteenth century, automobiles began to be designed more for function than form. This trend culminated with the Model T, which was cheap enough to be affordable to middle-class Americans and light enough and stripped down enough to support a large industry of third-party add-ons. According to Richard Albert, the Model T “aligned automobile design with market demand and gave the American car its characteristic style, which is characterized by its simplicity and abstemiousness.”
The safety of automobiles is a critical issue, especially in densely populated urban areas. Automobiles can collide with each other and pedestrians, and they can also be stolen or driven off the road and cause accidents. The risk of an accident can be reduced by following traffic laws, driving defensively and having a working car insurance policy.
The safety of automobiles is an ongoing concern, and there are several organizations devoted to researching and developing safer vehicles. In the meantime, the automobile is still an important mode of transportation. In cities, it can be faster and more cost-effective than public transit and provides freedom to travel where and when you want without having to wait for or worry about schedules and routes. In rural areas, automobiles can provide a way to get to places that are otherwise inaccessible. But there are times when the expense and inconvenience of owning a car outweighs these benefits.